August 4, 2010

Hubble Spectra Collection Now Available

Although the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is mostly famous for its spectacular pictures this is only a small part of its capability. It is also possible to use a prism to spread out the light from all the stars and remote galaxies seen in a Hubble image into their component colors to create what are called slitless spectra. These can be used by astronomers to learn far more about the nature of astronomical objects "” their distance, composition and likely nature. The Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF), based at ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, has processed a huge collection of slitless spectra from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys into a form ready for astronomers to use. The resultant set of more than 47 000 individual spectra is the largest of its kind ever created and will be a rich resource for future work.

This spectral collection is a major contribution from the ST-ECF to the Hubble Legacy Archive (HLA), a large project to optimize science from the Hubble Space Telescope by providing online, enhanced Hubble products and advanced browsing capabilities. The HLA is a joint project of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the ST-ECF and the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre (CADC).

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.


Image Caption: Composite of the galaxy image (left) and the spectrum (right). Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA


On the Net: